Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Haverford, Montgomery County
Haverford native, Morley was best known as a novelist. Although he had already penned short stories, Parnassus on Wheels (1955) was his first novel.
Born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, on May 5, 1890, Christopher Morley is perhaps best known for the satirical, humorist, maudlin, critical, and ground-breaking characteristics of his works. His body of work spans over 100 books, articles, and essays. The Haunted Bookshop (1919), Parnassus on Wheels (1955), and Kitty Foyle (1939)are Morley's most-known works. Morley attended Haverford College and then later attended New College in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Morley married Helen Fairchild in 1913, and together they had three children. Morley died on March 28, 1957.
Christopher Morley was born on May 5, 1890, to Janet Bird and Frank Morley. He had one brother, Felix Morley. His father was a math professor at Haverford College, and his mother was a musician and poet who taught young Morley how to read.
At the age of ten, Christopher Morley and his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. He returned to Haverford in 1906 to attend Haverford College. He received his BA there and graduated as valedictorian in 1910. His brother, Felix, later became the president of Haverford.
After graduating from Haverford, Morley was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and attended New College in Oxford, England, from 1910 to 1913, where he studied modern history. During this time, he published a volume of poetry, The Eighth Sin (1912), and also wrote stories and published articles in the Haverfordian, which he edited.
Returning to the United States in 1913, he started his career with the publishing company Doubleday, Page & Co. in New York, and married a long-time friend, Helen Fairchild. Together they had four children.
Later in his life, he edited two Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, periodicals: the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger and the Ladies’ Home Journal. Later he published two other world-renowned novels, Parnassus on Wheels (1955)and The Haunted Bookshop (1919).
Over the course of his literary career, Morley wrote a hundred books. The Man Who Made Friends With Himself (1949), Spirit Level (1946), and The Middle Kingdom (1944)are a few examples of his works, although his collection included novels, poems, articles, and essays. In 1920, Christopher Morley, Helen, and their children moved to Roslyn Estates in New York. Morley wrote the column “The Bowling Green” for the New York Evening Post. From 1928 to 1930, Morley produced several dramas, published a number of essays (many humorous), and wrote other pieces. He also helped revise Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations in 1936.
A lifetime aficionado of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, Morley created many works on the subject and even boasted of his membership in three Sherlock Holmes fan clubs.
Later in life, while living in the cabin he previously built, Morley worked continuously, authoring many works, including Kitty Foyle in 1939 - widely seen as controversial in because it dealt with the issue of abortion and followed an Irish-American immigrant woman. Kitty Foyle went on to sell over one million copies, making it a best-seller.
Morley continued to edit works by his favorite authors and write in his late life, and he wrote his autobiography. He died on March 28, 1957, due to a series of stokes.
Buried in the Roslyn Cemetery in Nassau County, New York, Morley was survived by his four children. The cabin he built has since become a part of the Christopher Morley Park, erected in his honor. Morley once said, "You can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries."
The Haunted Bookshop. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919.
Where the Blue Begins: A Divine Comedy. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1925.
The Ironing Board. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1949.
The Man Who Made Friends With Himself: A Novel. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1949.